On October the 9th, 2002, serial killer Aileen Carol Wuornos - after having been convicted of shooting at point-blank range seven men - was strapped to a gurney and executed. A lethal combination ran like wildfire through her veins, a solution experimented and perfected by Florida’s legal system. Halfway, up, that CNN incrusted State of the weird and bizarre, bar patrons guzzled down their own equally devilish libations and lamented their lot.
“Chuck, now you KNOW, they gonna’ jack-up the prices…”
And with those fabled words, a new milestone, perhaps even the avant-garde watermark for the ghoulish and the morbid was traced on Florida’s perpetually dazed and confused off the wall milieu. A wacky watermark, mind you, that needed a Warren like Commission just to keep straight; once every few months a manatee riding mama
would scrub it clean and launch its zig-zag finishing line a bit further up into the stratosphere
The Last Resort Bar near Daytona, Florida, is the proto-dive saloon were all other would-be sordid establishments can trace their genetic ancestry. If there is an Alpha male in the state, a bar, where all others come to worship, turn over and show their underbelly to its is this howling "take no s@#t" black wolf.
“Are you sure it safe to leave our car out here?” The big G from up above asks his horned rimmed and cloven-hoofed tour-guide.
“50-50,” goes he of the permanent residence in of the pit. Omniscience, playing with a faulty gear in the “omni” part. Two trembling deities entering hostile territory of pagan gods and Old Ones domain.
The Last Resort is the variety of bar that stops you midway and instantly makes you take heed of your survival instinct. As you drive past it, a ping goes off in your lizard brain, a radar blip that tosses your balls into a vice; the place permeating an atmosphere that doesn’t exactly celebrate a beehive of acceptance door policy. Still, wisdom, that function of self-awareness and intelligence that difference us from the salt bath gobbling fringe, suddenly finding itself in a dark room. Snap, emotional blinders sweeping dark the view… Tales of serial killers, weekend warrior yarns, beer by the bucket, and biker bedlam clouding our voice of reason shut; a new one, that very one that looks down from a high ledge and preaches “jump”, screaming off its rocker: “stop the car!”
The sanguine slogan of the bar, one that you can, dare I say must, buy stamped on a souvenir t-shirt:
“Home of ice cold beer and killer women.”
In 2003, silver screen beauty, Charlize Theron immortalized this bricked building in her Oscar winning film: “Monster.” In a knack and earnest desire to capture serial killer, Aileen Wournos' life, the crew dredged up her original stomping grounds and dusted from the bottom layer, deep in the sod, the prime den of vice and liquor she frequented; her killing field. That very same locale where she was finally arrested at.
Al Bulling, owner of the tiny bricked bar, tosses out rum drinks in plastic cups, tells it like it is: “she wanted to be remembered, keep the memory going,” the man pointing to a small shrine with a pictured frame of Aileen’s mugshot, standing tall in front of a decorative wall of serial killer paraphernalianelia and newspaper headlines. “Well, we’ll keep it going for her.”
The “World Famous”, as it now adds two high winded words to its portmanteau, has been frequented by every sort of new’s hound and journalist through-out the years. They’ve rounded the corner, jaws catching fly’s as they cut their wheels in order to avoid the “motorcycle tree” (a piece of decorative art, no doubt commissioned by Satan) and shoot into a parking lot plucked straight out from a Warriors’ reenactment set. The joint covered inside and out with graffiti, halloween decorations that haven’t seen a shelf since the Papa Bush’s administration, and a miasmic reputation that scorns whoever comes in with a song in their heart and a tune in their lips.
The Last Resort strives to pinch its way, with all its creepy earnest, into that strange zeitgeist of Jack The Ripper cosplayers and mad movie aficionados. Its oft kilter charm, a ball of weird on its owns, grows from a thorny undergrowth of humanity’s lurid hard-on for slowing down their Mini-Van at a devastating roadside accident and popping out their cellphone cameras; Snapchat a flutter. This isn’t a place to couple fiercely with some mixologist wetdream, this isn’t a place of repeating liquor elite like motifs… Nope, this is a place that values the fact that it is the product of a freak-show. A place that tears out the doors and invites everyone to, with a pregnant pause, wallow in the lowball insanity and madness of serial killer’s handy work. A place of beers, strong drinks and God-Forbid if you ask for a paper umbrella.
Tokens of Aileen waltz through the edifice perfectly priced for anybody yearning for an anecdote to fling out during their next sunny-suburbia barbecue meet-and-greet. Tokens, and keepsakes like:
Crazed Killer Hot Sauce, listing her executions date and a the slap and tickle label that reads:
“WARNING!! This Hot Sauce could drive you insane, or at least on some murderous rampage. Aileen liked it and look what it did to her.”
Oh, and when the whiskey optic finally get the better of you, take the battlefield promotion of a good night’s sleep and cross on down the road to the shabby motel, called the Scoot Inn. Ask for Wournos’ room, once number 8, now renumbered as 7, and nestle into your sheets - with your gin soaked mind - on a mattress with a few specters in its fleece.
“I had somebody,” recalls the motel’s owner Mike Bock, “came on by, who only takes photographs of bathrooms, oddly enough, of showers of people who were mass murderers and infamous. Girl paid for the whole night. Simply went inside, flew past the bedroom, straight into the bathroom. Started taking pictures for about an hour. Comes out, hands me the keys and goes off into The Last Resort. Didn’t even stay the night. Figures she got what she wanted.”
Last Resort Bar
- 5812 S. Ridgewood Ave., Port Orange, FL
- Last Resort Bar. On the southbound side of US Hwy 1, a quarter-mile north of its intersection with Hwy 5A/S. Nova Rd.